Rattus villosissimus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Muridae

Scientific Name: Rattus villosissimus
Species Authority: (Waite, 1898)
Common Name(s):
English Long-haired Rat

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-08-02
Assessor(s): Woinarski, J. & Aplin, K.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G.
Listed as Least Concern because, although this species is mainly restricted to core areas and is more susceptible to threats during drought years, it still has a relatively wide distribution, presumed large population, and it is unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to central and northern Australia (Predavec and Watts 2008). The species has a core range, but is occasionally found in a far larger area (during eruptions). Irrigated areas in the Ord River area of North-eastern Kimberley provide artificial refugia. The natural core range is in the Barkly lake system of the Barkly Tableland of the Northern Territory and the Channel Country in Southwest Queensland and north-eastern South Australia. It is also found on Southwest Island, within the Sir Edward Pellew Group, Northern Territory. Portions of the core range are within protected areas. There are smaller refugia as well.
Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It is a species that generally occurs in core areas, but can occasionally expand its range to a far larger area. The species can be eruptive with rainfall, but there seem to be far fewer eruptions today than in the past, perhaps due to degradation of habitat within refugia. Severe bottlenecks have been coupled with extremely large range expansions over time; there are historic records of extremely high abundance. No good estimates of population numbers outside of eruptions ("plague years"), which tend to be about 20 years apart.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is generally a nocturnal, terrestrial species of arid or desert areas. Populations are largely restricted to refuges within the arid landscape where food and water are always available. It has an extremely high reproductive potential (Predavec and Watts 2008).
Generation Length (years):1

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There appears to be no major threats to this species. Destruction of refuge areas by cattle may be a threat. In Western Australia, the species seems to have benefited from irrigation (artificial refugia within the Ord River area). During drought periods, there is a high level of pressure on refuge areas, as well as an increased threat of hunting by feral cats.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is present in some protected areas. Further research is needed on core areas and potential threats, as well as management.

Classifications [top]

3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
8. Desert -> 8.1. Desert - Hot

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions

Bibliography [top]

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

Pacifici, M., Santini, L., Di Marco, M., Baisero, D., Francucci, L., Grottolo Marasini, G., Visconti, P. and Rondinini, C. 2013. Generation length for mammals. Nature Conservation 5: 87–94.

Predavec, M. and Watts, C. H. S. 2008. Long-haired Rat, Rattus villosissimus. In: S. Van Dyck and R. Strahan (eds), The mammals of Australia. Third Edition, pp. 700-701. Reed New Holland, Sydney, Australia.

Citation: Woinarski, J. & Aplin, K. 2016. Rattus villosissimus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T19371A22445090. . Downloaded on 24 April 2017.
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